WARSAW — Two Sampson County men have been identified as suspects in the murder of a Virginia man, found in the roadway on N.C. 24 about a mile outside the county last week.
Duplin County Sheriff’s authorities said James Earl Newton Jr., 24, and Isaiah Smith, 23, both of Clinton, are wanted for murder in the fatal shooting of McKinley Beaty Jr., 21, of Norfolk, Va. Beaty was found just before 12:30 a.m. last Thursday, Feb. 13, near Warsaw, a few hundred yards west of I-40.
A police officer on routine patrol discovered Beaty, who had sustained several gunshot wounds, lying in the turning lane of a KFC restaurant on N.C. 24, according to reports from the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office. The victim was immediately taken to receive medical attention but is believed to have died during transport.
Surveillance photos of the suspect vehicle were released later that same day by investigators requesting assistance in its identification or any information about the homicide. On Monday, Duplin Sheriff’s authorities announced that Newton and Smith were key suspects in the fatal shooting, with murder warrants now in hand, Duplin Sheriff’s Capt. Stanley Jones said Tuesday.
Beaty reportedly has no family in Warsaw and no known local connection, investigators said. It was unclear why he was in the area and there is no known motive yet for the murder, the captain noted.
Newton’s last known address was 203 Trappers Run Lane, Clinton, and Smith’s address is listed on warrants as 424-F McKoy St., Clinton. Jones said Duplin detectives are seeking any information leading to their apprehension.
Smith has a string of convictions in Sampson County, including possession with intent to sell a Schedule VI controlled substance, assault and battery and carrying a concealed weapon. Newton has a criminal record even longer, with convictions of discharging a firearm into occupied property, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, possession of a firearm by a felon, breaking and entering, larceny and drug possession.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Anyone with information on the suspects’ whereabouts are encouraged to contact the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office at 910-296-2150 and ask for the Detective Division.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.